Interview with 'V' (Moscow region)

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Key information

Title: Interview with V., Moscow AHRC AH/1025883/1/14
Date: 2/4/2012
Interviewer: Miriam Dobson (MD)
Interviewee: Interviewee, V. (V)
Duration: 4 hour(s) 04 minutes and 59 seconds
Location: Moscow


V The war was over, father returned. Father returned a different person, I would say. He came home skin and bones, but his soul was filled with Christ's love. With a burning fire in his soul, above all ‘where are the religious believers?’ preaching, confessing sins. Someone who had given evidence against him, hid from him behind the stove, came out and said, ‘Forgive me that I spoke against you saying that you were looking to the West’. He was a story-teller, he loved telling stories. People came from blockaded Leningrad with tales of how they were almost eating each other. He told some stories too. People confessed their sins there. I, of course… Basically, he came home, and life was very hard, he came home and nothing changed. I remember, of course I didn’t hold back and told him, ‘so, you’ve come back, and how is our life better? Nothing has changed’, with something like that at the start...
MD Was that in 1945?
V Yes, 1945. He found a congregation of Germans not far away who had already put down roots, they had a commune with cows, good butter, he began bringing butter from there to sell. Then he travelled to Novosibirsk where he had family, he brought some things back from there, aluminium dishes, the kids went about selling them. Some things began to appear at home, food obviously, therefore people began to look at him as a father, and not only a father who preaches. We decided to leave here for Novosibirsk again. Once in Novosibirsk we went to a service, it was for everyone, at least for me it was a blow to the soul, a heavenly blow, a revelation that such a thing can exist on earth, that there is something in this life outside of the family. Our family was a good one, paradise exists, and it is the family. Here I came to a service, where there were tears, the post-war period, wives were crying for their dead husbands, and generally about their unhappy lives where everything had been lost and broken up, no children, no husbands, no fathers. What prayers were said in this congregation, unbelievable! I would say that I’d never seen anything like the Novosibirsk church, for us it was something of a convulsion, yes, a convulsion. Because there was a choir, father began to organize a second choir from young people, young people, so many young people my age, 14-15 years old as I was then, they took us and we went into the forest, then did some sailing on the River Ob, this was just another life entirely. He worked in an artel [workers’ cooperative: DG] as a photographer, it was very good work, we all helped to print the photographs and some money came in. You just had to take a picture of the school and you’d earn good money. He also helped in the church. Generally speaking, I would say this was such an awakening of my consciousness, and this was a period when all those who controlled us and what they call nowadays the law enforcement agencies had gone off to the frontline and here we could have total freedom. Total freedom, when you don’t feel the eye on you. There were so many young people, services for young people, sometimes only boys and sometimes only girls. Some of us younger ones even got offended if we were not admitted. We got together for discussions, everything around the house of worship. Filipp Grigorevich Podkovskii, Lisitskii, Onishchenko, Grigorii Rak (?), youth leaders, it was all so, so captivating, we wanted nothing else, nothing different. You could only derive great joy from the young people, and what was really in this period very important was baptism, I think, the baptism of hundreds, among them my two sisters. In the River Ob. We sang as we went there, the whole church went out of the city and into the bosom of nature. We sing on the river bank, we lit a campfire, went for a swim, someone got into difficulty in the water so we dragged him out, in this chain, I stood in this chain of people on the riverbank, but I also stood here so as not to be dragged into the whirlpool. So then, church life was just so captivating. I also wanted to give my life to God and I even confessed my sins, but something held me back, something awful and heartfelt, so the Lord God did not give me spiritual rebirth, and I remained only close to the church and that was the case for many years.